Fishing Family on the Rock

Lifelong Juneau family has its hands full fishing for kings and running the spring derby

Posted: Friday, April 14, 2006

Leslie Rae Isturis grew up in a fishing family. Her father raised his children to be comfortable on the water and to have good fishing skills.

On most evenings and weekends in May people from the Isturis family can be seen fishing "on the rock" at False Outer Point in north Douglas, competing for the winning fish in the Spring King Salmon Derby.

Leslie Isturis, who organizes the derby, said running it is part of her job description for the Alumni Scholarship Assistance Program. She's had the job since 1999.

"I came in and hit the floor running-sending out solicitations for prizes and sponsors, then contacting people by e-mail, gathering all the prizes, organizing the advertising, taking care of budget, putting together the derby booklet, taking care of the Web pages and keeping them updated," she said.

Leslie nicknamed her mom "the money lady" because she helps out with the finances.

"My daughter asked me to help one year and I've been helping ever since," said Marlee Isturis about her part. "I go to all the different stores that sell the tickets and pick up the money for tickets and count the money, make sure everything is balanced and make out her deposit slips for her," she said.

Marlee Isturis says picking up the tickets is a highlight for her. "It's kind of enjoyable because every time I go somewhere it takes awhile because everyone has stories to tell, fishing stories," she said.

Leslie's father, Rudy Isturis, spends a lot of time fishing on the rock. He says fishing with family and seeing friends is a highlight for him.

During the spring derby he makes fishing videos to give to people. "I go down and take videos of all the kids fishing and try to get the families that go down there to fish," he said. "I put the videos together for my family and for those guys that are in the videos." Some of his footage has been used in commercials for the derby.

Leslie's brother, Ramon Isturis, helps with paperwork and cooks at the awards banquet. "My kids and my wife have helped too. I like to stay in the background," he said. His favorite part of the derby is getting to fish with friends and family, he said.

Greg Isturis, Leslie's other brother, has fished in all the derbys and want to be the winner one day. One year he placed second and has placed 10th (twice) and 11th. "It brings out the camaraderie of the locals," he said. "This is where we see each other every year. It's good to see them every year. We all have a good time. Everybody knows each other. It's something to look forward to. I've been doing this since I was a kid," he said.

Leslie's son, Ocean Isturis, stuffs envelopes, proofreads the derby's publication and decorates on awards night. The biggest salmon he's caught was 27 pounds. "The best part for me is sometimes my mom lets me skip school to go fishing. I like fishing with my grandfather. I go out on his boat and spend time with him," he said.

Ryan Isturis, Leslie's nephew, sells hot dogs to fishermen during the derby. "My grandpa owns a boat, a rubber raft, and has a little kicker for it. I pumped it up and put it in the water, got the hot dogs, soda and chips or whatever we sold, went boat to boat and asked them if they want to buy a hot dog," he said. "Quite a bit of them did."

Ryan's favorite part of the derby is "fishing. Going out on the rock with my dad, my brothers, my uncles, cousins, and cast a line out!"

To Leslie Rae Isturis, the best part of the spring derby is being at outer point and taking pictures of the guys on the rock fishing. "Basically that's where it all started," she said. "There was always the August salmon derby, but the inspiration for the spring derby came from always wanting to get the people on the rock. That's who we look to, our guys on the rock," she said.

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• Teri Tibbett is a freelance writer, musician, photographer, teacher and snowboarder living in Juneau for 30 years.

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